New Zealand Covid update: cases drop to 49 in ‘reassuring indication’ lockdown is working

New cases of Covid-19 have continued to drop in New Zealand, in a promising early indication that the country’s strict lockdown is working and its latest outbreak may be coming under control.

The country announced 49 new cases on Tuesday – dropping for the second day in a row, down from 53 cases on Monday e 83 on Sunday. It is the lowest number of new cases reported in the country in six days.

Director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said the drop “does provide a further reassuring indication that our public health measures are rapidly slowing the spread of the virus.”

According to the latest modelling, Bloomfield said “the reproduction rate of the virus in this outbreak is now looking like it is remaining under one, which means cases will continue to decline.”

Asked whether New Zealanders should be celebrating the latest results, prime minister Jacinda Ardern said she would ask New Zealanders to “hold that thought.”

“Every day for me is, another step, a bit of progress, ma [suo] too early. For me I want to see sustained reductions over a period of time and I think actually most people want to see that. It is good not to see some of those high numbers we were only a few days ago.”

“It’s another step. We’ve still got a journey to go through.”

New Zealand has been in a strict level 4 lockdown since 17 agosto, when a single case of Covid-19 was detected in the general population. Since then, the total number of cases in the outbreak has grown to 612.

“The seriousness of Covid-19 infection is also very visible to us,” Bloomfield said, con 33 people in hospital, including eight in intensive care of whom two were on ventilators. “These hospitalisations obviously have an outward ripple effect on our communities and whānau [families], and my thoughts are with those individuals and their whānau. It’s also sobering that of the current Auckland outbreak six cases are under the age of one.”

Ardern said “We have an 18-year-old in hospital right now. I don’t think anyone can assume that they are safe from this virus, so we all have a job to do so. My request would be that we need everyone from all walks of life to do their best and to be the best role models that they can be.”

Officials are still hunting for how the virus got into the community. While the first cases have been traced, via genomic testing, to a single quarantine facility in Auckland, they have not yet been able to identify exactly how someone outside the facility was infected.

Ardern said that “all of the obvious sources of transmission – people to people contact – it would be fair to say that we’ve ruled most, if not all, of them out”.

She said officials were now investigating theories of how the virus could transmit through the air, without person to person transmission.

A number of people have been evacuated from west Auckland due to flooding this morning. Ardern said that those emergency evacuations overrode pandemic alert levels.

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